It’s like the Best Episode of Columbo never made

One of the surprising thing about ‘Crime and Punishment’ is that Dostoyevsky delivers all the adrenaline-pumping action early on in the novel. As you look at the inches thick wedge of pages you’ve yet to get through, you can’t help thinking that at some point, the novel will flag – it’d be impossible for it not to. And yet…… it doesn’t!

Dostoyevsky was a master-draftsman of characters, and their vividly realised motivations and actions keep those pages turning. However, I also found one of the most exciting aspects of the novel to be the cat and mouse chase between Raskolnikov and Porfiry Petrovitch, the criminal investigator. The tension mounts with their every encounter, and as the net draws ever tighter, Raskolnikov’s claustrophobia is palpable.

It reminds me of watching old Columbo episodes. The crime takes place, then, when faced with a dishevelled, bumbling, seemingly incompetent detective, the culprit initially feels safe from suspicion. But as Columbo, with his crumpled mac and cigar, and his anecdotes about his wife and his dog keeps on digging, things start to look shaky. Those awkward questions often thrown as an afterthought eventually eek out the truth and see the criminal brought to justice.

Of course, there’s much more to ‘Crime and Punishment’ than a 1970’s detective drama, but just imagine if Dostoyevsky made an episode of ‘Columbo’ – more scrofulous characters than you could shake a penny docket at, oodles of existential malaise, all culminating in a heartbreaking epiphany in an Siberian penal colony, now that would be worth setting the Sky+ for!

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